News Contraception

Minnesota Bishops Fighting Birth Control Mandate

Robin Marty

The groups are afraid they will be forced to provide contraception coverage to their employees.

Citing freedom of conscience, bishops in Minnesota are actively campaigning against including contraceptives in insurance coverage without a co-pay, saying that it will force them to have to provide birth control and “other abortifacients” to their employees.

Andy Birkey writes:

Minnesota’s Catholic bishops sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday urging her department to drop a mandate on health insurance companies to cover birth control as part of their health plans.

The bishops argue that entities like Catholic Charities would have to offer insurance plans to their employees that offer coverage for contraceptives or else stop providing health benefits to employees.“While we support providing access to those services which can truly prevent disease or disability for woman such as pap smears and mammograms, we join other persons of good will who strenuously object to mandatory coverage for contraceptives and sterilization procedures,” the bishops wrote in the letter (PDF).

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The bishops also object to the current “conscience clause” in the mandate.

A religious organization is exempt from the mandate so long as it “has as the inculcation of religious values as its purpose, primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets, and primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.”

The bishops worry that religious charities would either have to provide health coverage that offers birth control or opt not cover their employees at all.

“By exempting only those who employ and/or serve persons of the same religious tradition from its mandates, Catholic health care providers—the safety net for many of our marginalized sisters and brothers—cannot enjoy the exception without abandoning our mission, to the significant detriment of those in need.”

It’s unclear what exactly the religious organizations believe they would have to “abandon” in their mission in order to qualify as a “religious organization.”

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